Downright Un-neighborly

Nothing like a little morbid curiosity to boost a sale

Big estate sale going on right now at 4949 Swiss Ave., subject of the recent series of stories in

The Dallas Morning News,

"Mary Ellen's Will: the battle for 4949 Swiss," by Lee Hancock, which I thought was really

terrific stuff


Cars are lined up half a mile away on Swiss. People at the head of the line look like dealer types to me (I have an eye for this, having been dragged around to a lot of estate sales by my life partner). But toward the back of the line you have more hapless schmoes, which is what I look like at these things. I was walking three dogs today, so I couldn't go in. I did happen to have my camera, which I have to carry when I walk my dogs because stuff happens around here.

But here is what struck me: Art Rousseau, the guy doing the sale, who is a former neighbor of the late Mary Ellen Bendtsen, has posted copies of the Morning News series on the front of the house as sales come-ons. I have to say, I'm just a little queasy about that.

You say tragedy; we say opportunity.

The Morning News series was a story about, among other things, the failure of the neighborhood to do anything to help an old lady who was increasingly out of her head in a falling-down house. Let me qualify that: There were a few neighbors, notably Frann Love and her husband, David, who did try to intervene. But I think most of us in the 'hood who knew Mary Ellen get a grade of pretty much F-minus for helping her. And I think that was clear in the stories.

But never mind that. Rousseau, who is in the estate sale business, hawks this one by effectively saying, "Here it is, folks, read all about it: the haunted house you read about in the Morning News, where we neighbors allowed a fragile old lady to drift off into neglect and abuse, just like our own local Brooke Astor. C'mon in and grab her stuff while you can!"

He's charging eight bucks admission. Ah, well. The antiques business is not for the faint of heart, is it? --Jim Schutze

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